A 4-year-old New York boy died after being struck in the head by a stray bullet on a Bronx playground Sunday evening, police say.
Authorities say gunfire erupted at about 9:30 p.m. at the playground in the Forest Houses in Morrisania, and the child got caught in the crossfire. According to the New York Post, two men, angry over a dispute following a basketball game, began firing at each other.
The boy, identified as Lloyd Morgan, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
“When my friend didn’t see her kid, she panicked,” a woman who said she was a friend of the Morgans told the New York Daily News. “Then she saw him on the floor, shot.”
Lloyd Morgan Sr., the child's father, told the Post this is the second time he is burying a child.
"This is my second child that's been taken away from me," Morgan Sr., 26, told the newspaper.
According to the Post, Morgan Sr.'s then-girlfriend, Shelly Courcelle, was sentenced in 2007 to three to nine years for manslaughter after a medical examiner ruled that their newborn daughter found in a Brooklyn closet in 2006 had died from pressure to her windpipe.
Courcelle pleaded guilty in exchange for the sentence. Morgan Sr., who had been dating the woman for a year, said he had no idea the reportedly heavyset woman had been pregnant.
Authorities say two men were also shot on the playground on Sunday. A 27-year-old was shot in the stomach and a 21-year-old was shot in the arm. Both are expected to survive.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the two men were innocent bystanders or targets.
Residents described chaos as people began running throughout the park and parents grabbed their children. About 100 people had gathered to watch a basketball game and enjoy a barbecue, the Post reported.
No arrests have been made. Police continue to investigate.
Lawmakers, clergy and residents in the community planned to rally Monday afternoon to call for an end to the violence that has plagued playgrounds and basketball courts throughout the city in recent weeks.
Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson called the most recent incident frustrating and urged anyone who knows who pulled the trigger to step forward.
"We can't tolerate this any longer. Those who know these people need to step forward," Stevenson said. "It's not about snitching. It's about protecting lives of 4-year-olds. And those who know in this community need to step forward."
"Those who are doing these horrendous crimes are going to be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he added. "You're taking the lives of young people. You will be taken out of this community."
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